Acai Bowl

Acai Bowl

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For such a small berry, the acai packs a big punch. And, as it comes from the rainforests of South America, it also carries a fairly hefty price tag.

The acai bowl is one of the dishes that Brazil is famous for, and daughter #1 was very excited to have the chance to try it on the beach in Rio. Sadly, she was very disappointed (her comments are largely unprintable…)

When I found small packets of acai berries on sale in Singapore and tried to make a bowl myself at home, I understood exactly what she meant. The berries come frozen, and if you defrost them completely they turn into a ghastly brown mush.

Fortunately, there are now a couple of places here which are dedicated to serving acai bowls as they should be – with the berries still frozen but broken up into a texture like granita. Served with artfully arranged fresh fruit, granola, bee pollen, chia seeds, coconut shavings and cacao nibs, this becomes a delicious treat.

Not to mention ridiculously healthy. The acai is full of antioxidants and omegas 3, 6 and 9, which are supposed to fight free radicals, prevent all sorts of problems including heart disease and cancer, and even boost energy whilst delaying signs of aging. As if all that wasn’t enough, they are low GI, vegan, and manage to make you feel full after eating just a small portion.

I can certainly vouch for that last part – a small bowl, costing only S$6.80, is more than an adequate substitute for lunch and leaves me feeling particularly virtuous.

Rain Shoes

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In tropical Asia, when it rains it rarely does so in a half-hearted fashion. You can literally see the water approaching, like the rapid advance of a dirty shower curtain, or – in extreme cases – an actual waterfall. It rains so hard you can barely see across the road, and bounces off the pavement so high you will swiftly be soaked to the knees despite your umbrella. There are days when it all gets too much for the storm drains to handle, and low-lying roads turn into rivers.

You might think I would be used to this by now, but old habits die hard and I am always taken by surprise those days when I set out in bright sunshine yet find myself wading home in ankle deep water. I cannot tell you how many pairs of pretty sandals have died a hideous death in these circumstances…

But I seem to have found an answer. Local ladies, who are usually half my size, get around just fine in Chinese-made plastic shoes designed with a lace-effect pattern of holes that let the water out. I have some, (see the picture on the left), only they are just so tight I don’t wear them for more than 10 minutes except in emergencies. Recently, however, the shoe market in Singapore has expanded to include several new brands selling bright and fashionable waterproof shoes that are nice enough to wear all day.

My favourite is Melissa, a Brazilian brand, which has such an extensive range it even includes high heels. The company, which has been going for more than 35 years now, uses a recyclable PVC which is both tough and flexible, so their shoes are comfortable as well as practical. They don’t always have the larger sizes, but my 2 pairs (above centre and right) cover most eventualities and I am very pleased with them.